Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Squat, Our Powerhouse Move!

by Kris Pitcher

The power group making up your back side is your glutes, hips, quads, and hamstrings. The squat is a compound, closed-chain exercise. A compound exercise involves more than one joint, and more than one muscle group.

In this case we're working with both the hip and knee joints, and with multiple muscle groups. These joints and muscles are part of a kinetic (motion/energy) chain. In this case, your feet will be planted in a fixed position creating a "closed chain" exercise. If your foot were free to move, as in a leg extension, it would be an "open chain" movement.

Closed chain exercises are more stable than open chain exercises in terms of joint stability. See the difference?

The squat is our powerhouse move! Because it brings so many muscles into play, we are maximizing efficiency. If you had time for one lower body exercise, this would be the one.

One great thing about the squat is there are so many variations. We'll look at a body weight squat. No equipment necessary!

Start with your feet shoulder width apart, arms at your sides. Your toes should be just slightly turned out. With your abdominals pulled in toward your spine, inhale as you release from the hip and "sit". Lower your body no more than 90 degrees, extending your arms in front of you for balance, exhale as you press through your heels to return to standing position.

Variations are limitless. The body weight squat is a great starting place. If you have knee, hip, back, ankle or other injuries/issues you should always consult your personal trainer, in conjunction with your physician before adding anything to your routine.

Working the muscles of the lower body is critical to living independently as we age, to maintaining our fat burning lean body mass, and to having a booty-luscious backside. These are the largest muscles in our body, and this powerhouse move hits them all!


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